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March 20, 2018Jennifer King
When Paul Wehner decided to bring his company’s guided meditation mobile app over to voice, he knew he was onto something extraordinary.
“I quickly realized that voice enabled our customers to experience technology-driven guided meditation in a whole new way,” says Wehner. “Voice provides a seamless, distraction-free interface, which is perfect for the experience we’re trying to deliver to enhance emotional wellness.
As the Director of Platforms for a startup called Stop, Breathe & Think, Wehner has been able to bring the power of meditation to the masses with voice and make enough money through the Alexa Developer Rewards program to scale and enhance his company’s skills.
Stop, Breathe & Think builds meditation and mindfulness products. One of these products is the company’s highly rated, rewards-earning Alexa skill called Guided Meditation, which provides daily calming meditations. Additionally, Wehner has built two other popular skills called Meditation Timer and Sweet Dreams.
With Alexa Developer Rewards, Wehner is able to reach more people through Alexa-enabled devices and help them along their wellness journey. Today, tens of thousands of customers use his guided meditation skills on a monthly basis, with users describing the skill as the “perfect way to jump-start a daily meditation practice.” Some have left reviews describing how the skill is “better than apps on phones, tablets, and computers.”
“As a startup, the additional source of revenue has been important to help us grow and reinvest in skill building,” says Wehner. “The rewards incentivize us to put more development resources on our existing skills and put more man-power behind new ones.”
Once Stop, Breathe & Think started receiving the Alexa Developer Rewards in July 2017, Wehner was inspired to put more time and energy into Alexa skills and prioritize Alexa as the technology to make guided meditation available to users via voice. Wehner and his team have used the rewards to create a better meditation experience by adding fresh content and new features across their skills.
“We needed the ability to connect users to mindfulness and emotional wellness content in the experience that’s most conducive to meditation,” says Wehner. “Voice is the perfect vehicle because it is accessible without having to use a device in their hands.”
Wehner is part of the team that oversees product management and development for the company’s guided meditation mobile apps and Alexa skills. The apps have been successful, being downloaded 4 million times, and received recognition from The Today Show and Apple’s Planet of the Apps. But as started to use Alexa more and more in his personal life, he recognized how voice can create a powerful meditation experience since with voice, our most natural form of interaction, technology simply fades into the background.
“When you meditate, you want to eliminate all distractions,” says Wehner. “With Alexa, you can leave your phone in the other room, and then sit down, close your eyes, and simply say ‘Alexa, open Guided Meditation’ to begin.”
When Wehner made the decision to focus on creating a voice-enabled version of his guided meditation app, he started by attempting to translate the mobile experience to voice. He quickly realized that trying to transition a mobile experience, which is entirely dependent on a touch-based graphical user interface, over to a voice user interface requires reimagination.
With the mobile app, users would have to navigate through multiple menu options to access content. To create a seamless voice-first experience for customers, Wehner simplified the voice experience so users can access the content faster—by simply asking for it instead of having to navigate through menus to access it.
“You have to think voice-first, and part of the voice experience is wanting it to be simple,” says Wehner. “The experience should help people dive into the content as quickly as possible, and voice is the perfect interface for that.”
As Wehner continues to enhance Guided Meditation, build new skills for Echo devices with screens, and optimize his other skills, he recognizes the potential to continue earning money through the rewards program.
“We’re excited about how Alexa is growing and evolving its offering to make skills available to more users, including kids,” says Wehner. “The opportunity for developers to scale and innovate with voice is tremendous, and we’re excited to be part of it.”
When you create delightful skills with compelling content, customers win. You can make money through Alexa skills using in-skill purchasing or Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills. You can also make money for eligible skills that drive some of the highest customer engagement with Alexa Developer Rewards. Learn more about how you can make money with Alexa skills, and download our guide to learn which product best meets your needs.